May 7, 2011
JAKARTA, May 7 (AP) - (Kyodo)—Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen stated Saturday that Thailand's demand for withdrawal of Cambodian troops from Cambodian territory on the disputed border between the two countries is "irrational and unacceptable."
He made the statement at a plenary session of the 18th leaders' summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations that began in Jakarta on Saturday morning.
"This condition is irrational and unacceptable. In fact, it is Thailand that must withdraw troops from the vicinity of the areas, according to the judgment of the International Court of Justice at The Hague dated 15 June, 1962," he said.
Hun Sen was rejecting a recent demand by Thailand that unarmed Indonesian cease-fire observers will be allowed along the disputed border only if Cambodia withdraws its own troops and civilians from what Cambodia sees as its own land.
Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva countered that Cambodia was violating a Memorandum of Understanding agreed in 2000 that troops and population based or living near the ancient Preah Vihear Temple on the border must be withdrawn.
The bloody border conflict, which has seen a shaky cease-fire since Tuesday, has now grown into a heated regional diplomatic conflict since ASEAN foreign minister gathered in Jakarta on Friday and the leaders since Saturday.
In a six-page statement to the leaders' plenary, Hun Sen highlighted the border war with Thailand as well as other regional issues such as disputes among other members and China in the China Sea and terrorism.
He noted the border war may not only affect regional peace and security but may also "create serious challenges for ASEAN in our pursuit towards the ASEAN Community in 2015."
"I believe that ASEAN should not ignore this serious issue. Moreover, ASEAN must consider this dispute as the most important issue for the life of the community...ASEAN must establish a mediation mechanism for the effective settlement of the dispute," he told the other leaders.
In conclusion, Hun Sen urged the ASEAN leaders to "provide support and put forth necessary measures in order" to make all parties concerned cooperate and accept unarmed observers along the disputed Thai- Cambodian as soon as possible.
"ASEAN's prestige and credibility will be at high risk if the efforts to establish a permanent cease-fire will not materialize as planned," he warned.
The ASEAN members are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.